Georgio Morandi: The Art of Silence. Janet Abramowicz. Yale University Press. New Haven and London. 2004.
Books on Morandi are plentiful. Because they abound, it is difficult to decide which of the many books is valuable to a reader/artist/student. Many books are written on Morandi’s work with plentiful and lush photographs of the paintings, watercolors and prints. Some of the biographies are surveys of work done in certain periods of Morandi’s life or are documents of some of the genres in which he worked or complete catalogues of his work. Janet Abramowicz’s book, The Art of Silence, is, in my opinion, the best way to start a survey of the work of this important artist. It is a very quiet, cautious, careful book; much like the paintings she describes so well. Abramowicz became Morandi’s teaching assistant and subsequently visited his house daily, watching his work evolve, and learning his history. She became intimate with his working methods and thought process. After Morandi died, she continued her friendship with Morandi’s three sisters. Having unique access to Morandi’s correspondence, she is able to trace the history of his friendships, the development of his paintings and etchings and the history of significant Italian art movements. Particularly interesting is previously undocumented information about Morandi’s political involvement in the days of Mussolini. Because Morandi only titled his work as “landscape”, ”sill life”, “flowers”, Abramowicz explains how Lamberto Vitali (friend and author of the catalogue raisonne) devised a numbering system of Morandi’s work which, in subsequent study, resolves confusion. This book is amply illustrated with works to illustrate her essays. The “selected biography” is helpful to the beginning student trying to understand Morandi’s work on an intellectual level. There is a good and helpful “index”. The book includes 41 color and 71 black and white illustrations and is 267 pages. Abramowicz writes beautifully, concisely and with authenticity as she draws a portrait of Morandi as an engaged and intellectual individual. She dispels the myth of Morandi as a lonely recluse. He did, however, choose to live in the same house with his sisters for a lifetime (choosing to go to the country house in later years during the summer months). She does not comment on the stability of this choice or whether he was drawn to another lifestyle. The more emotional side of his personality still remains a mystery. Other than commenting on disappointments or disagreements the reader is left wanting to discover more about the maker of such quiet poetic pieces.